BY: JESSICA BEUKER
Over one-third of the Earth’s human population – nearly 2.4 billion people – lives within 100km of an oceanic coast. The ocean is vast and deep, and harbours nearly half of all species on Earth. We know that the ocean is home to fish and plants, but it is also home to the Bajau tribe. Floating villages on the coral reefs off of Sabah, Borneo serve as the homes of this tribe. They continue to develop a knowledge and love of the ocean, exploring it and deeming themselves the “Sea Gypsies.”
According to boredpanda, the Bajau sail day and night and rely on fishing to make a living. Everyone in the tribe works hard, either catching the fish or finding another job to do. While the youngest children stay on the boats and learn to dive or swim, the other children, some as young as eight years old, can hunt. Some members of the tribe are able to free-dive as much as 20 metres to the bottom of the reef. They will stay down there for several minutes while they search for fish. According to BBC, some will have unusually good underwater-vision because their eyes have adapted to the liquid environment.
The Bajau tribe knows only of life on the ocean. Most Bajau are born, live and will die in their village; women give birth in their huts on stilts. According to Peoples of the World Foundation, they bury the deceased on the shore, which is the only time they will come to shore apart from building new boats. The BBC adds, “When they do spend the occasional night on solid ground they often report feeling ‘landsick’”. Throughout their lives, the Bajau gain no knowledge of reading or writing. They don’t even know their own ages, and since the present is the most important thing to them, they do not care about time.
While this way of life may seem strange to the rest of us land-dwellers, the Bajau tribe have found a way to connect with the ocean. At the very least there is richness in their culture, but perhaps these Sea Gypsies are actually teaching us something about our relationship with the largest and yet, least explored area of our Earth.